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Children with cancer have the hope of retaining fertility

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Men begin to produce sperm when testosterone increases during puberty. Infected boys who have not reached puberty may suffer from lifelong infertility if they are treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other drugs. According to statistics, one third of child cancer survivors may not have children because of cancer treatment. Because sperm is not yet mature, it is impossible to use them for assisted reproduction when they are adults.

The University of Pittsburgh team developed a cancer survival model for male rhesus monkeys. Before chemotherapy, researchers frozen immature testicular tissue, then thawed it and transplanted it into the subcutaneous tissue of the same animal. Twelve months later, the animal entered puberty. Researchers removed the transplant and found a large number of sperm. The sperm was injected into the eggs of rhesus monkeys, and in April 2018 a healthy female rhesus monkey was born.

Researchers say this progress is a milestone in the development of assisted reproductive therapy, providing hope for the fertility retention of pre-adolescent boys who are about to receive cancer treatment, and providing opportunities for young cancer patients around the world to form large families in the future.